Echtra – Paragate
“Paragate” is the second release by Oregon’s Echtra. The music is blackened drone but with acoustic instrumentation that accompanies the distortion. Where drone music can at time sound very boring, the acoustic elements here give the music much more atmosphere and the songs have a more expansive feel.
The album consists of two 23 minute long songs that move along at a slow tempo but they never make you feel as if you’re being dragged along. The music may be hypnotic in its repetition but it never feels redundant. The mix of acoustics and black metal influenced drone completely engages you in a way that is never burdening. The backdrop consists of an almost continuous wall of distortion that blankets the sparse tracks and the vocals are in a low, heavy growl or scream. This type of music is all about creating an atmosphere and “Paragate” has atmosphere in droves. As the drone creates a somber and melancholy ambience, the acoustic guitars add light and a sense of hopefulness. As the vocals and drums crash in, they cast their shadow upon the light, stirring up feelings despair. It’s in this cycle of emotion that their brilliance lies.
Initially, as I listened I thought of the band Earth, as they both make slow, but powerfully moving drone-based music that is steeped in repetition. However, as the black metal passages kicked in, I found myself reminded of Velnias, not necessarily in the music itself, but more so in the mood that it creates, dark but with a hint of light.
With all the different genres and sub-genres of metal, it seems to me that it’s the black metal and drone artists that are pushing the envelope these days and “Paragate” is a prime example of how that can be a good thing.